So, this is up on the website of the Patriarchate in Arabic, but not in English. So, I figured it was worth translating. The original can be found here.
During the morning session of the Holy Synod of Antioch taking place in the Patriarchal Monastery of St. Christopher, the Synod listened to a presentation by Dr. Elie Salem, president of Balamand University. During this presentation, Dr. Salem explained how the university is developing, with regard to academics and the number of faculties, as well human resources, the number of students and buildings, and the number of university publications. He likewise presented the future plans and budget for the academic year 2010-2011, assuring the Synod that the university is financially sound, which assures stable development.
Dr. Salem put forward a number of suggestions for strengthening the relationship between the university, the archdioceses, and the Orthodox schools.
At the end of his presentation, the bishops thanked Dr. Salem for his work, and especially for the fact that during the past two decades the university has become the equal of the most well-established Lebanese universities in various ways.
The Fathers likewise emphasized the necessity of the university’s role in making the Orthodoxy prominent and the necessity of carrying out this role by promoting Middle Eastern Antiochian Orthodox thought and history, with the knowledge that the university must remain open to all the spiritual families of Lebanon.
During the second session, Dr. Georges Nahas, dean of the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology gave a presentation covering all academic, spiritual, and administrative aspects. With respect to academics, Dr. Nahas presented the new program in education and modern, accepted methodologies. He likewise indicated the development of the master’s program and the bachelor’s in religious studies for those who are not interested in theological studies.
With regard to student life at the institute, Dr. Nahas indicated the close attention to the daily liturgical life of the students as well as requests to some spiritual fathers to give the students attention. So there is personal attention to each student so that we may be on a level appropriate for clergy. He also pointed out that students are divided into small working groups in their studies, and the launching of a group for recreational and cultural activities during free time.
He then discussed the difficulties that the work of the institute faces, and how they should be addressed administratively, asking the Fathers’ help in applying the institute’s efforts at solving these problems.
He then talked about the presence of the institute in the university as a whole and mentioned that the professors at the institute desire a more effective presence at the university within the fields to which they can contribute. He talked about the presence of the institute on the level of Antioch and in general, through the various activities which it organizes. Dr. Nahas also talked about the development of relationships with Orthodox theological institutions in the world, and the establishment of an important network of external relationships which enable the exchange of academic expertise.
He then presented on the institute’s administrative and organizational affairs and the plans for the future set forward in the ten-year working plan which insures the role of the institute in bringing up students and in revealing the Orthodox identity, and as a center for pastoral care and also for the publication of religious instruction in the Arabic language.
During the discussion that followed, the Fathers emphasized the necessity of connecting theological knowledge with pastoral experience so that the priest is able to bear into the world the image of Christ the Good Shepherd and not fall into theological excess and ignore the pastoral aspect of the priestly vocation.
The accompanying Patriarchal media delegation:
Archimandrite Ibrahim Dawud
Fr. Daniel Nimeh
Dn. Demitrios Mansour